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Jack Graham - Chosen

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    Jack Graham - Chosen
TOPICS: Essential Gospel, Sovereignty of God

Take God's Word and turn with me to Romans, the ninth chapter, Romans chapter 9. This is THE ESSENTIAL GOSPEL, our series in the book of Romans. And today's message is all about the sovereignty of God, we're going to be talking about things such as man's responsibility in view of God's sovereignty. We're going to be talking about predestination and election. And we're certainly not going to do anything but skim the surface. People have been talking about these issues for two millennium and we're not going to solve some of the questions that I know you may have regarding this truth of both divine sovereignty and man's responsibility which is side by side in the Scripture. Both are true. But really this message is about the nature and the character of God. It’s all about Him: who He is and what He does for His own glory and for our salvation.

Beginning in verse 14 of Romans 9, "What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, 'For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, 'Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?' But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its maker, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory". Let’s pray:

We ask you, O God, to now open our minds and our hearts to Your Word. Speak to us by Your Spirit these words that are eternal life to all who believe and trust in You. We pray that those who in this very room and watching wherever they are would find this grace today to be found of you and to experience eternal life and Your mercy and Your grace and Your glory which is forever and ever. Amen.

Here's the thing about life: It's not about you! It's all about God and His purpose for our lives, for your life! The title of this message is "Chosen". The fact is, God wills to choose and to use who He pleases, always! And at first, He chooses the Jewish nation, calling out Abraham, and through Abraham, Isaac and then Jacob. As a matter of fact, earlier in this same passage if you're in, I hope you are still in Romans chapter 9, He speaks of the privileges of the Jewish nation, the people of Israel. And here's what he says regarding these privileges, verse 5, "To whom belong the patriarchs". Let me back up. Verse 4, "They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption", that is, Israel is called the children of God, God’s chosen people, "the glory", speaking of the Shekinah Glory and presence of God in the wilderness, in the Temple, "the covenants", the Mosaic Covenants, the Davidic Covenants, the Noahic covenants, all the covenants of God in the Old Testament, "the giving of the Law", came through the Jewish people, Moses as the hand of God gave him the Law, "the worship, and the promises".

So from the promises of the prophets and the patriarchs, the great people of the Old Testament, "To them belong the patriarchs, and their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen". God made the Jewish people and chose them and gave them, through the law, through the prophets, through the patriarchs, through this people the glory of His love and the purpose of His call to Israel was to be a light to the nations. And so God raised up the Israeli people. And there's no explanation for the people called Israel. There's no explanation for the survival of the people of Israel except for the plan and the purposes of God. And this is all fulfilled in Christ because through the Jewish people, through the Jewish nation came the Messiah, Jesus the Savior of the world.

I was speaking to a driver this past week. He was taking me someplace and I asked him about his faith, and he said, "I’m Jewish". And I said, "That’s wonderful. My best friend is a Jew". And he said, "Really? Who’s your friend"? I said, "His name is Jesus". And it's true. We have been given the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament. We've been given the moral law of God, we've been given the blessings of the people of Israel to the world. They remain steadfast and their nation called again, restored in 1948 at the state of Israel. Again, I say there is no explanation for the survival of the Jewish people but by the hand of God who has kept them and preserved them. So God chose the Jewish people. He chose Abraham of the people from the world. Among Abraham in the family of Abraham, He chose Isaac and from Isaac's family He chose Jacob rather than Esau. And this is God's prerogative always to choose. Because ultimately it is His plan and His purposes, His predetermined plan that fulfills His desires for all of the earth.

This is what Romans is all about. That God has saved Himself for Himself a people. The theme of Romans is we are not saved by works or religious morality or race; not what we earn or deserve; or man seeking God but always God seeking man, God seeking us. That this salvation is not received through nationality, whether Israeli nationality or American nationality. Christianity is not an American religion! The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all the world! And the Jewish people misunderstood and they rejected Christ "who came unto His own and His own received Him not, but to as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to be called the children of God". But God made us for Himself. And therefore, I want to speak to you briefly about God's predetermined, predestined rule. Because as we were reading this passage here, we realize that everything is centered and controlled by Him. And always, always, our focus in life, our focus in our witness, our focus in preaching the Gospel should never be centered in ourselves.

So often today in our generation it's so often about us. How to have a happy family, how to have a great marriage, how to have a successful career, how to be fulfilled in your life. But the Bible and the message of God reminds us that we will never be fulfilled, we'll never be happy in life until we discover God's purpose, God's plan in our lives. That it's not about us; that it's about who He is and what He has done for us. And knowing God is the purpose and the pursuit of a lifetime. Who is this God? Someone wrote, "The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father". The greatest pursuit of your mind and heart is to pursue the knowledge of God.

Paul said, "That I may know Him", progressively and ultimately perfectly. To know God is not to just know about Him, but to really know Him. And He has revealed Himself in the Person of Christ. That's why He came in great glory and in great grace. But considering before we even tackle some of these subjects regarding human responsibility, man's will versus God's will, predestination, election, these great truths are taught in the Bible. Let's remember that God is just, that God is righteous, that God is holy; that He is pure, that He is perfect, that He is mighty and Almighty! And along with that, He is absolutely kind and generous and loving and forgiving! One of the most highlighted and quoted verses in the Bible about the Bible is in the book of Exodus. And in Exodus we’re told, chapter 34, that He is good and He is gracious and He is kind and that He is forgiving! But He will by no means clear the guilty because God is a perfect and a holy God. The way to know this God is through His Son Jesus.

Jesus said in John 17:3: "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent". The Bible says in Proverbs 9:10, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight". To know God is the purpose of life. And you will never discover why you’re here and what life is about till you first discover God’s plan and God’s purpose for your life. Now, to say that God is sovereign, and speaking of this sovereign rule of God. The sovereignty of God, to say God is sovereign is to say that He has absolute authority! He is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful so He is free to do always as He chooses. That's sovereignty. And the Bible is full of this from cover to cover. We may never fully comprehend it, certainly this side of eternity we won't fully understand it; how God is in control of everything in our lives.

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 says, "Yours, O God, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all"! You rule over all. Some deny Him, some defy Him, and yet God is in charge and in control of all things. His eternal purposes will be fulfilled with you or without you. Before time began you were in the heart and mind of God. Now I know; that blows my mind. I'm sure it does yours as well, to think that God Himself could have a plan beforehand in your life. In the infinite heart and mind of God there was a plan to save each one of us. The Bible says, "The Lamb of God, Jesus, was slain before the foundations of the world". And God loved you and knew you before you were born. And in your mother's womb you were made, you were fashioned, you were formed by God Himself. And God chose you to be His child. He elected you and selected you, if you are believer in Christ, as His chosen one.

You are chosen. We are chosen in Christ. It is Christ that seals the deal; that chooses us and then controls us by His Spirit. Jesus said, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, that you would go and bring forth much fruit". So you are God’s child, not because one day you decided to follow Jesus, but because in the heart and love of God, He brought you into His family. Now does that mean, as some suggest, that Jesus died only for the elect? There's a brand of theology that moves through these issues with profound and persuasive words regarding the election and selection and predeterminations of God. The bottom line ultimately becomes who chooses. Does God choose you or do you choose God? Well, God chooses you, but you must also choose Him!

John 3:16. Let me just give you some verses that show us that all of us are capable of responding to the grace and the sovereign love of God. Verse 16 of John 3. You know this one if you've been around this church. "For God so loved the world", everyone, "that He gave His only Son that whoever believes", that means everyone can believe, "in Him should not perish but have eternal life". Isaiah 53, and verse 6: "All we like sheep have gone astray; we’ve all turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all". Christ died for all! Christ did not die only for the elect; He died for all! All can experience His love.

Romans 8:32: "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things"? And then here's one from 1 John chapter 2: "He is the propitiation (that is the satisfaction) for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world". First John 4:14: "And we have seen and testified that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world". Revelation 22, and verse 17, the last invitation of the Bible: "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears, say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life freely and without price. Whosoever will may come".

God has a will; His will will be done! Now take a deep breath. God chooses, God calls us, God selects us, God elects us, God brings us. We don't find God; He finds us. His Spirit moves in our heart. This is all the work of God. It is for Him and by Him and unto Him. It's all Him! But in God's plan, in God's purpose because He wanted children to love Him and follow, He didn't make us puppets on a string, predetermined robots. But He gave us a part of the divine image which is now shattered by sin, but yet a part of the divine image of God. He gave us the right, if you will, and the responsibility to choose Him. So God chose you and He’s calling you and He’s choosing you today. He has elected you. Do you want to know if you’re among the elect or not? Then come to Jesus today and settle that issue.

I like what D.L. Moody, the great evangelist used to say. He said, "O God, save the elect! And then elect some more"! And it is the heart of God more and more to bring people to Himself! There’s no limits to the grace of God, no boundary to the power of the blood of Jesus! He will save all who will come to Him. But we also know that some choose not to believe and not to receive, and reject Him, and thus in our passage we read, we see God’s perfect righteousness in judging those who reject His sovereign will and purpose. We do have a responsibility; we do have an accountability to God. And so he talks about pharaoh, the Egyptian king. You know no doubt the story of pharaoh even if you haven't read your Bible, you've seen the movie no doubt. And Moses and the Ten Commandments, and the pharaoh, the powerful ruler of the world. And Jewish people were enslaved in Egypt and God sent His servant Moses to say "Let my people go"! And Pharaoh began to refuse. Ten times Moses went to him and ten times he rejected God's plan and God's purpose to let His people go.

With that 10 rejections came 10 plagues, judgments upon the people of Egypt. None who survived, unless they were under the blood of the Passover. But Pharaoh's example of someone, because it speaks of Pharaoh hardening his heart against God. That God hardened his heart and that pharaoh hardened his own heart. Twenty times it says in that Exodus experience that Pharaoh hardened his heart or that God hardened his heart. Ten times Pharaoh hardened his heart, 10 times it says God hardened his heart. So which is it? The answer is both! Pharaoh had every opportunity to receive the mercy and the grace of God by obeying God and letting the people of God go. And yet, he was recalcitrant; he was rebellious, and as he did, he would begin hardening his heart, stronger and stronger, until it became like concrete. And so God hardened his heart because Pharaoh is hardening his own heart. And God hardened his heart. He said, "All right, then your will be done".

So how is your heart? The writer of Hebrews says, do not harden your heart due to the deceitfulness of sin. Romans 2:5 says that "because of your heart and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed". Did you hear that? As you say no and no and no and no and no and no and no to God, your heart gets harder and harder and harder; your soul gets more callous. Proverbs says, "He who resists the Lord, He who being often reproved, resists the Lord shall suddenly be cut off and that without remedy". You don't judge God: God judges you. The good news is that Jesus took your judgment and your sin, your rebellion and satisfied the righteous demands of a holy God. Jesus died for you. And He will give you a new heart. He’ll take that cold, stony heart and give you a brand-new heart.

Romans 10:9 says, "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved". So here is the way I view it: On this side of heaven there is a door. Jesus said, "I am the door". "I am the way, the truth and the life". And so we stand on this side of eternity and we see a door. This door to eternity, this door to heaven. And on our side of the door it says, "Whosoever will, may come". And if we walk through that door by faith and trust in Christ, "whosoever will" means you and "whosoever will" means me.

And so we walk through that door and we get on the other side and life is over, the door closes behind us and we turn around. And you know what that door says on the other side? "You didn’t choose me, but I chose you". It's a matter of perspective. God is sovereign. He has a purpose; He has a plan. You're accountable to God. You were made by God for God. He has a right to do anything He chooses to do with you or with me. But with that great sovereignty comes great accountability. Why? The last person we read spoke of this, for the mercy and the grace, the redemptive promises of God. So that you could be saved. AND be a light to the nation. Be a light to the world.
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